Why did Aspire make changes to our programs due to Covid-19?
A year ago, we would have never dreamed of some of the changes in our world today and the reality that it makes our future SO questionable. Aspire Leadership and the Board of Directors set out to do a bit of a risk assessment of likelihood and severity of impact of each risk. (see diagram below)
And even though some of the outcomes are not 100% in likelihood, the impact is severe enough to make it unacceptable. This sound wisdom brought to us by our Board coupled with hours upon hours of prayer, research, tears and advice brought us to the decisions in temporary change to our programs for the 2020-2021 school year.
Here are some examples of the risks and blockers to normalcy that are in front of us:
➡️ We have NO IDEA what we will be up against this school year. National, State & Local mandates and recommendations will be in a constant state of flux, and this will cause uncertainty and inability to plan and function well as a program. If most of Leadership had to bet, most of us would bet on things getting worse before they get better, so why would we ignore this and plan as if yesterday’s normal even has a chance to be our reality.
➡️ We have no government or excess funding while trying to keep costs as low as possible for families and payments flexible while balancing risk for Aspire. The reasons that private and public schools can plan for all this additional hours or work and supplies to meet safety expectations is that they have the funding and the finances to pay for the additional hours and requirements. We don't.
➡️ All our administration and campus admin help is VOLUNTEER. We have both concerns about volunteer absences affecting our ability to safely run campuses, and concerns to make sure we are using volunteer time wisely and not requiring a ton of hours for a school year that ends up interrupted again. We want to honor the stress capacity of our hardest working volunteers!
➡️ We don't own our own facilities. We lease them. Which puts us at the mercy of our partner churches with upholding mandates and such. Even if we try to set some boundaries based on the few things we do know, the churches at any point and time could need to change these for good reason. There are no promises the churches can make to us on this, because they, like us, have no idea what the future holds. We want to honor these great relationships and make sure we aren't putting our church partners at a higher risk.
➡️ We would take on additional liabilities and risks. The impact of these risks would be felt by the Board, The Aspire Group, Inc. representatives, and Leadership. We cannot ask them to take on more than they already do.
➡️ The constant changes to rules and guidelines causing volunteers to spend extra time to pivot and adhere to, plus causing frustration and confusion for all as chaos reigns. And if you've ever been to a homeschool co-op, you know that we moms are all Chaos Coordinators (no really, we have the shirt), but even this seems like a chaos that we may struggle with!
➡️ We will have more absences due to actual sickness and probably more fear (especially if / when we have our first Covid case at Aspire). More absences means less commitment to Aspire which hurts the program, volunteers, students, everything… Volunteers are the fuel that runs Aspire.
➡️ We want to have our Aspire families best interests in mind, and every time we have to shift our plan, it affects so many parents and students. The change derails students’ academic progress and frustrates parents trying to scramble to fill the gap.
➡️ We could go on and on with the bullet points that have plagued our thoughts and been pleaded in our prayers…
How do we use wisdom here? As homeschoolers, we have the freedom to shift how we do things. We aren’t stuck in the mindset of the traditional student where the parents can’t fathom a year of school at home. So what would wisdom say? This is something that 15 Leadership Team members and 7 board members debated and discussed, and then agreed to this plan. We hope that with the adjusted pace, and less required advance commitment, families can have their needs met in a year of major uncertainty where we must all remain flexible in this ever-changing environment.
Thanks for your grace and know that this has been a very hard decision. Please remember this when communicating with any Leadership or Board members as it has been an extremely tough season to be a leader of anything, let alone a volunteer leader of a school program. Thank you!